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guys, i think i’m really on an asian kick. like, i might need to take a trip to asia sometime soon (except that i hear things are cramped and crowded and hot and potentially smelly and just the thought of a place like that makes my OCD-ness kick into high gear…oh wait, i just described most of new york city).

i came across this recipe for general tsp’s tofu on pinterest last week, and figured i might as well try it while i was on my whole “mix sesame oil and soy sauce and ginger and good things will happen” kick. what do you know? this stuff is GOOOD. and would be even better on some deep fried chicken pieces. no offense, tofu, you know i really like you a lot, but i think it’s better that we just be friends. chicken and i are in a serious relationship, and it ain’t complicated.

if you’re a vegetarian, you’re gonna looove this dish. if you’re not, you’ll love it too – just make it with shrimp or chicken. the sauce is made separately, so you can throw it onto whatever you want.

note: the original recipe calls for a good amount of sriracha, and i can’t handle spice – so i cut it down substantially, and just threw in a little squirt to my sauce. if you’re into spice, go for it, but buyer beware! that ish is on FIRE.

The Recipe

tofu:

12 oz extra firm tofu, cut into cubes (i buy mine at trader joe’s)

1 tbsp corn starch2 tsp vegetable oil (i use canola)

sauce:

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp grated ginger

2 tsp vegetable oil

1/4 cup water

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp hoisin sauce (warning: this stuff is like crack)

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp sriracha (i used just a squirt, remember)

additionally:

1 tbsp corn starch + 2 tbsp water

veggies of your choice

1 cup white or brown rice

to make the tofu, preheat your oven to 400 and toss tofu cubes with 1 tbsp of corn starch in a bowl. make sure they’re evenly coated on all sides. cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spritz with a layer of nonstick spray. spread your tofu cubes out on the baking sheet and bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and slightly crispy to the touch.  

meanwhile, cook your rice. white rice is generally a 2:1 ratio (two cups water to one cup rice). brown rice is too, but it takes longer to cook (usually around 40 minutes), so i prefer white in a pinch.

while you’re baking the tofu, make your sauce. cook your diced ginger and garlic in a medium saucepan for a few minutes, then add the other ingredients listed under “sauce” above and cook for another few minutes. mix the remaining water and corn starch in a tiny bowl, and pour it into the sauce mixture slowly. stir until it’s evenly integrated and your sauce is thick and slightly chunky. i know that’s gross, but that’s what it should look like. see picture. 

take out your tofu from the oven and toss it with your sauce. serve it over rice and top with a bunch of sauteed veggies. i chose zucchini and purple cabbage (i just sauteed them in a few teaspoons of soy sauce and sesame oil). throw some  sesame seeds on top and dig in.

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as a writer, i’m well accustomed to writer’s blocks – those days when i sit down at the computer and stare at a blank word document with seemingly paralyzed fingers (sidenote: on how i wish it were the early 1900s and instead i was sitting down at my writing desk with parchment and a quill). as a cook, and more importantly, an avid eater, i’m also well accustomed to chef’s block. you know, that whole ‘water everywhere but not a drop to drink’ syndrome.

i’ve got a fully stocked kitchen, thanks to a mother that believed that “fully stocked” meant there was at least one or two extra of everything down in the basement pantry. as a new york city apartment dweller, i don’t have access to fancy things such as “basement pantries” or extra refrigerators – but i make sure i’ve got enough food to feed myself for at least a week at a time, at all times. what can i say? i like to eat. that being said, even i have those days where i rifle through my bountiful fridge and my overflowing cabinets and think, “this is it? really? but i don’t WANNA eat this!” and yes, i do this in my internal cranky voice. if penny (my cat), is around, i say it aloud to her instead of to myself.

BUT! i have a solution. you see, when i’m in a ‘food everywhere but nothing to eat’ situation, i often default to takeout, mostly because it means more exotic food than i can manage to make myself. i’m not the type to order italian or a cheeseburger, but give me some chicken tikka masala or thai curry and i’m a happy camper. but what if i could make these exotic foods myself? newsflash, ladies and gents, i can – and so can you. there’s no need to go running to the telephone when you’re feeling uninspired when you’ve got a kickass chicken curry recipe up your sleeve. this is mine.


The Recipe (adapted from Scott Drewno’s Red Curry Chicken)*

Serves 4

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 tablespoons canola oil (canola oil is good with high heats)

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 2-inch cubes

1½ tablespoons Thai red-curry paste (I use the Thai Market brand)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika (you can use regular paprika if you don’t have smoked)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips

½ cup sliced red onion

½ mushrooms, sliced (I used brown button)

½ of a beefsteak tomato, cut into bite size pieces

½ cup scallions cut into 1-inch pieces (use both white and green parts)

14 oz unsweetened coconut milk (I use reduced fat coconut milk from Trader Joe’s)

¼ cup fresh lime juice (the juice of about 3 limes)

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

heat the oil in a large skillet and add the chicken. cook evenly on both sides, about two to four minutes. add the curry paste and the paprika, cook until fragrant. add the veggies – carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, scallions, onion, red pepper – and cook for another three to five minutes. add your coconut milk, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the milk thickens slightly, eight to ten minutes. add the lime juice, season with salt and pepper, and stir in half the cilantro.

serve over white rice, and garnish with remaining cilantro. this dish reheats well, and tastes even better the next day, once the flavors have had a chance to sink in.

*the recipe i adapted features a few things i don’t like, like fish sauce – but you can find it here.